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PapaJohn's Newsletter #87

two Journeys from Analog to Digital...

We're each making a personal transition from analog to digital... each with a different background and different set of skills, interests, and tools... and each heading toward different goals...

While we're together for a while as users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, we can help and inspire each other by sharing some info and ideas...

My newsletters are usually about the technical aspects of the software. But the users are more important than the apps... so I'll make an unusual exception and devote this issue to all users by sharing some info about the journeys of two of them - PapaJohn and Chuck Bentley.

... before getting into them, here's a couple notes...


The Vista corner... I filed a few more bug reports this week... none serious. More significant to Movie Maker users is that the custom xml files for custom effects, narrations, and title overlays don't work... not until they are tweaked to align with new coding.... the hackers are busy figuring it out, and it won't be long.

Help, I Can't Save my Movie... this week's notable item was my biggest project subdivision effort to date... a double project in that it was requested that I not only sub-divide the project into segments that would render, but also do the rendering and send them the finished movie.... the 25+ minute project used hundreds of high quality still pix (yes, just a big slide show)... it rendered easily in total to a Pocket PC profile.... but a segment over 4 minutes when rendering to my custom 1280x720 profile wouldn't go, even with my 2 GB of RAM.... interesting when i watched my RAM that it didn't use more than 2 GB even with it available as virtual memory, making me wonder if the software can effectively use the extra virtual memory... 7 segments later, with music added at the end, tallied up to a 1.1+ GB WMV file that took 10 hours to upload to a server, and many hours to then download to the client's laptop.... when he saw it playing on a 21" LCD monitor from his laptop, with 1-1/2 hrs left until his flight took off to the conference he needed the video for.... he was ecstatic with the visual quality, and had to call to tell me how great it was.

.... back to the main topic...


I started making home pictures and videos back in the late 1960's with whatever consumer film camera was available at the time... 35mm camera for prints and slides.... and 8mm silent film (1969). From there, my progression was to super 8 film, super 8 with sound (1976), 8mm analog tape (1984), Hi8 analog tape, and then mini-DV tape (2004).

Editing video started with a little splice kit, cutting the film and gluing or taping the ends together.... it was easy to know where a clip stopped and started... you could see it.

When moving to camcorders from film, the editing process changed... stopping and starting a VCR tape as you start and stop the camcorder....

At one point, the video future was here... it was time to copy all those films and slides onto camcorder tapes, to protect the family treasures from aging film. It took some time to setup projectors and screens, and shoot the projected images and video onto the 8mm camcorder tapes.

We were fairly early in adopting computers and a digital lifestyle... word processing for letters, spreadsheets for budgets, and then databases for household info about everything and anything. But it was many years before the computers and software were powerful and easy enough to move into digital non-linear editing.

I started using the computer for video editing when Movie Maker 1 came on my Windows Me system (2000)... using Adobe Premiere 6.0 (2001) for special transitions or effects.   

This week I decided the future is here again... I started converting my lifelong accumulation of family video treasures again... this time from analog 8mm and Hi8 tapes to mini-DV tapes. My 40 analog tapes (2 hours each) will use 80 digital tapes at an hour each. The S-video connection from my Hi8 camcorder to my mini-DV camcorder is capturing the full quality of what's on the analog tapes, and being in digital format for the first time, theory has it they won't degrade. 

PapaJohn Office

So much has happened in recent years that it often feels like I've been involved with digital video forever... maybe it's because I made my first 20,000 posts to newsgroups and forums over the past 5 years... in reality, we're in the very early stages of digital video editing. 

I was a bit younger in my office at the left, as were our five grands in the picture... fantasy... that's part of what home video editing is about... turning our routine home video clips into a visual and audio experiences... not necessarily reality. The digital editing environment is a great place to play with everything.

Click this link or the picture for a one minute sample of ... mixing analog and digital...

Chuck Bentley

We've met lots of people over the years at our daily reading/working/mocha drinking sessions at our local Barnes & Noble. Another couple we've seen there regularly is Chuck and Donna. But it's only in the past couple months that we've moved from simply saying hello in passing to knowing a bit about them. Donna's big Dell laptop and my big HP broke the ice, as they look similar.  Chuck Bentley

Chuck is about 10 years younger than me, but started his transition to digital video a few years before I did, getting his first digital camcorder about 8 years ago. Digital yes, but he has yet to use a computer for video editing. 

While I've been dabbling in video as a hobby, his 30+ career since college has been as a professional videographer, playwright, director, and producer... of videos.

We went to see Chuck's 30th career production Sketch in December, a live play that ran for a couple weekends... besides writing and producing it, he videoed it for its longer life on public access TV.

His wife Donna Kaminski is so skilled with computers that she's been a professor at Western Michigan University for over 25 years, teaching programming and databases... since the days of punch-cards (that's when I decided that nuclear engineering was easier than computer science).

You might think a couple with their background and wealth of experience and knowledge would have moved more into digital by now than you or I...  but it's not the case.

They live in Kalamazoo during the school year, and have had a summer home in England for the past 12 years ago. He's not only aware of differences between NTSC and PAL, he lives them.

Writing and Storyboarding...

The topics of my video to date have been typical home movies... 5 grands, vacations, holidays, visits to beaches and cities... dabbling in Movie Maker and Photo Story to add neat touches. I've never written a video script or planned one in detail. I'm in awe of Chuck being able to do such productions... on a regular basis, and make a living at it.

by Chuck Bentley

Days and Nights in Venice

One of his favorite stages for video is Venice... he'll be staging and shooting one there at the end of February. The one shown here and in the opening sample video are scenes from an earlier work.

Here he is writing one of his scripts... pen and pencil on paper and yellow pads... he'll do it at home, or at Barnes & Noble. As I write my newsletters and books on my laptop, he writes and rewrites by hand.

Donna, being the computer professional, has been nudging Chuck toward computers and digital, and succeeded recently at getting him to try e-mail... that's as far as he is at the moment...

Chuck Writing

Shooting the raw footage...

Chuck, with 4 digital camcorders... and many more analog ones... shoots mostly hand-held, but steady.

I plan almost nothing and shoot most everything, using a monopod at times. With the ease of doing non-linear editing with Movie Maker, I specialize in making silk purses from sows' ears...

Chuck on the other hand uses actors and rehearsals, planning every word they say...

Actor 1

... he orders Panasonic professional tapes for his digital camcorders while I use the Maxell bulk packs from Sam's Club.

Actor 2


the Editing Process...

With a career in video and the stage arts, and Donna teaching

university computer classes... and a few computers at home, you might expect him to be using Final Cut Pro, Vegas, maybe Premiere... or at least have tried them.

He hasn't used a computer yet for more than email... I had seen some of his work such as Days & Nights in Venice, with the special effects in the opening scenes, and was intrigued by what his studio must be like. They invited us over a few days ago to see it.

Our tour started with their English gardens in the back... lots of statues, columns, sculptures, intriguing things. Then to the studio downstairs, with an extra 8 feet of so added to the height of the room when it was built with a stage in mind.... kind of link an old English Shakespeare theme, with lots of theatrical memorabilia throughout the house.

What would be a living room is the main editing studio... he'll typically start with a mini-DV tape with raw footage, and end up with the final edited rendered video on another mini-DV tape. But between the two digital devices are a myriad of analog black boxes with knobs... as he started to learn Movie Maker this week, he keeps wishing my computer had an analog knob to allow him to adjust the audio volume in real time as the previewing happens.

By not having a professional analog equipment setup, my adopting Movie Maker 1, followed by MM2, was an easy move from the stopping and starting of my VCR tape to add another scene from my camcorder. If I wanted an opening title or closing credits, I did them manually an something, and shot a few more minutes with the camcorder aimed at whatever it was... certainly nothing close to the professionalism of Chuck's Days & Nights in Venice title.

He is interested enough in digital editing to explore it... and thinking that he's an experienced professional, I'd start him off with Premiere. Two sessions later, we chatted a bit about the differences between Premiere and Movie Maker, and jump-shifted to continue the lessons using Movie Maker. 

the Future...

I'll be beta testing Vista, finishing my conversions of analog material to digital, and supporting the community of Movie Maker users, while expanding my support of the digital still picture imaging/editing software... and Photo Story.

Chuck has seen some of his past video work dry up, and thinks it's partially due to the proliferation of consumer camcorders and editing software... he feels it's time to learn what's in the digital area.

Donna thinks that making a production in segments (she thinks 3 minutes per, and Chuck feels he can't do it in less than 5) and distributing it as a series of vodcasts... would be one way to move into the digital future. Chuck is writing the script for the late-February production in Venice to fit into that scheme. He's willing to try it.

We've talked about what he can do better and easier with the computer... but haven't found the first little project yet. I'm encouraging him to not jump into full digital with a production, but use it for something that can do for his production what he can't do with his analog equipment, whatever it is. And don't do it with a production deadline looming ahead.

Conclusions and Closing

The users of the software are the most important part of the process... we use it and make it work, or we introduce problems and frustrations. Yes, there are some real technical issues at times, but there are always solutions or work-arounds.

Our common journey is moving from analog to digital, but the pathways are not clear in short-term goals or methods... high definition is ahead of us both, and Chuck's analog equipment can't handle it... he thinks. Movie Maker can handle it, but I have no desire to move to it beyond borrowing a camcorder from Sony to help write my book. How significant will it be?... we don't know.

I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:

Windows Movie

Have a great week...


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
Photo Story 2 -

Products and Services

I'm involved in many things that support users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, and adding more regularly. Some are free and others reasonably priced.

Radio and Podcasting

theDVShowTheDVShow is the only weekly Podcast having more useful information about desktop video editing and production than anywhere else on the Web. Digital video editing, nonlinear editing, streaming media, software releases, tutorials, business tips, technical help, download of the day and news on the latest products to make everything easier. It's where professional and consumer desktop video users go to stay on the cutting edge.

Call the phone mail machine to get your technical question answered on the air... call (206)-203-3516

The radio broadcast is from Boston, and the website has downloadable podcast files. The June 19th 2005 podcast was the first 'bi-weekly' show with a segment about Movie Maker 2.

Do Amazing ThingsBooks and Magazines

Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on, published by Microsoft Press...

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the publisher's forum - Friends of Ed

MaximumPC's winter 2005 quarterly special... had a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2'. The special edition of the video made for it is now on my website as a file download.

The November 2005 edition of Maximum PC had a well done reworked 6 page reprint of the same article, starting on page 42 after the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.

Learning VirtualDub - published by Virtual DubPackt Publishing, is the first book about VirtualDub software. I wrote the first chapter about downloading and setting up the software: VirtualDub, VDubMod and AVISynth.


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - - the site's 3 goals are: an online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.

PhotoStory 2 - - a detailed tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site.

Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups

I'm a regular on many online forums and newsgroups, the key ones being:

Forums are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those who want to post. Moderators actively participate to ensure the forum discussions move forward and stay on track.

Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at Windows Movie Makers

Movie Maker 2 forum at

Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup -

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -

Weekly Newsletters

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story newsletter. The annual subscription is $20 and the link to subscribe is on the main page of my Movie Maker website at:

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#88 - January 28 - open

#89 - February 4 - open

#90 - February 11 - open

Newsletters that were distributed more than 6 issues ago are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site at his Windows Movie Makers' website. Links from my website pages to specific newsletters make it easier for viewers to see the content of both while browsing a topic.

Drop an email to suggest a newsletter topic... I can use more requests rather than fewer.


Add-On Transitions and Effects

Transition Maker 2 (TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in making your own personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2. It's a joint product from Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself. Version 2 was released a week ago and I'm still working on updating the online tutorial.

I've beta tested some of the Pixelan packages and think very highly of their people and products.


ProDAD's Adorage package for Movie Maker 2 provides an additional source of professionally developed transitions and effects.

Personal Database

Managing your personal information is more of a challenge as hard drives get bigger and the internet more robust.

My personal database has been an ongoing project over many years, and is now available to others. A tutorial about using it is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and more info is in the database package itself.

It's free for the asking to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request and I'll return it with the zipped file, which is less than 1 MB.

To others it's $10. To order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database page.

Online GalleryNeptune Gallery

An online gallery that fully aligns with the main priority of the website is the 'PapaJohn Expert Zone' at neptune.

Check it at Neptune and the Distributing > Neptune page of the website, where there's a developing tutorial about how to use the service.


in conjunction with the Portage, Michigan library, we offer two free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. Scheduled sessions are:

Monday - January 30 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - February 13 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

Monday - March 13 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - April 10 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

Monday - May 8 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Other fee-based services

If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail a copy and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects, and provide detailed instructions about how to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 (no cost if it's not the right solution or doesn't work) - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $50 per hour - send an email - and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

Wedding combo website/video packages - check the bottom branch of the Movie Maker 2 website for a sample of what you can expect for the online portion of the package.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.


About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler John "PapaJohn" Buechler, of Kalamazoo, Mich., goes by PapaJohn online. An avid user of Movie Maker since its first release, and a regular supporter of the community of Movie Maker users, John received a 2003 MVP award from Microsoft for that support. In March 2003, he started a comprehensive website about Movie Maker 2 at He maintains the website, writes books and articles, teaches, and provides support services - all for the community of Movie Maker 2 users. An engineer by formal education, John is a computer database and multimedia expert by business and personal experience. He co-authored the first book about Movie Maker 2 and is actively working on a second one. You can find his advice in the Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup and in the Windows Movie Makers Forums.

This newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler.
Please note that this is an archive of newsletters and some information may become outdated. PapaJohn, and the webmaster of this site, provides this information "AS IS" with no warranties.

Visit - PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index



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Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.